Not many people will first think of São Paulo as a holiday destination when they think of Brazil and many will completely ignore this city, because it is not what you would call a tourist attraction. Or is it…? For a concrete jungle, which São Paulo is, it has quite a lot to offer.
The City that never sleeps
A title that officially belongs to New York, but perhaps fits better with São Paulo. Despite the fact that São Paulo is an urban jungle with lots of concrete high-rises – just not the size of the skyscrapers you will encounter in NY – and that it is the financial center of Latin America, São Paulo is an adventurous and exciting city, which is has something to offer every visitor. Whether it is historical or modern art, architecture, shopping, parties or good food. Thanks to an excellent and efficient metro network, getting around this city is relatively easy. But how do you get there in the first place? A plane ticket to São Paulo is not a problem, most European airlines fly there, such as KLM (direct from Amsterdam) , Air France , TAP , Iberia and Lufthansa (with transfer). However, what must be said about this city is that you should not wander through this city like a ‘headless chicken’, because due to its size and density the city can be quite overwhelming and intimidating if you don’t know what to look for. . What is an asset of the city is that the mayor, Gilberto Kassab , decided in 2007 to ban all advertising in the streets and on buildings. The mayor thought that the ‘ visual pollution ‘, with meter-high posters, billboards and neon advertising, was running out of control.
Most and most important tourist attractions are located in the metropolitan area and in the neighborhoods of Bela Vista ( Italian Quarter ), Bom Retiro ( Jewish Quarter ), Liberdade ( Asian Quarter ), Praça da Sé, República and Cerqueira César. São Paulo has a lot to offer for people who love beautiful classical, historical or modern art. The Museum of Religious Art Museu de Arte Sacra, located in an 18th century monastery, houses a large collection of South American colonial artifacts. It also has a beautiful and peaceful garden called Jardim da Luz (Garden of Light). One of São Paulo’s biggest art attractions is the São Paulo Museum of Art (colloquially abbreviated to MASP – Museu de Arte de São Paulo ). It has Latin America’s best collection of Western art. It has works by Van Gogh, Renoir, Manet, Modigliani and Degas, as well as some great Brazilian painters such as Cândido Portinari. There are also regular temporary exhibitions. The building is also a striking phenomenon in itself and a well-known landmark, located on Avenida Paulista, where most people think it is an ugly building. The Pinacoteca do Estado , housed in a neoclassical building, has a large collection of paintings. Museu da Língua Portuguesa (Museum of the Portuguese Language) is also highly recommended for those interested in the Portuguese language and how it has spread across the world over the centuries. It is housed in Estação da Luz (Station of Light). The São Paulo Botanical Garden has more than 3000 plants and an orchid house and various aquatic plants. People who love architecture will get their money’s worth in São Paulo. With buildings by famous architects such as Lina Bo Bardi, Oscar Niemeyer and Paulo Mendes da Rocha. And because of the many immigrants, mainly from Italy, Japan, Syria and Lebanon, who moved to São Paulo at the beginning of the 20th century, the city has a great diversity of residents and cultures and they have added their own neighborhoods. The Municipal theater ( Theatro Municipal ) is definitely recommended to visit. For a beautiful panoramic view of São Paulo, the Altino Arantes building , also known as the Banespa building, is highly recommended. At 161 meters high, it is one of the tallest buildings in São Paulo. The building even houses a museum, the Banespa Museum, where the almost 100-year history of the bank can be seen. Other buildings worth a visit are the Sé Cathedral ( Catedral da Sé ), built in the neo-Gothic style and located in the Sé area of the same name and in the center of the city and close to the Banespa building. View from the Banespa building / Source: fotosedm.hpg.ig.com.br, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-1.0) Edifício Copan (Copan building), designed by the famous architect Oscar Niemeyer, is located in the center near Praça da República . This building stands out because of its shape, which is what Niemeyer’s buildings are known for, as it has an undulating shape which gives the building an impression of movement. The building has even inspired writers, filmmakers, photographers and other artists from all over the world. Edifício Itália (Italy Building), with a height of 168 meters, is one of the tallest buildings in São Paulo. From the panoramic terrace you have a great view of the entire city. There is also the option of dining in the Terraço Italia restaurant while enjoying a snack and some music to enjoy the view. The building is located between Praça da República and Edifício Copan. Also take a look at Avenida Paulista , this 2.8 km long avenue is one of the city’s main thoroughfares. In the 19th century, this street was home to the large villas of the coffee plantation owners , some of these large villas can still be seen today. Furthermore, in addition to the many financial institutions that have established themselves on this street, you will also find a lot of cultural institutions and museums (MASP) and a shopping center. There is also a small park called Trianon where the trees have still been standing since the foundation of the city in 1554. Parque do Ibirapuera (Iberapuera Park) is a large city park (140 ha) and is somewhat comparable to the Central Park in New York. Besides the area for relaxation, jogging and walking, the park also has a congress building and the Museum of Modern Art (Museu de Arte Moderna), Museum of Contemporary Art (Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade de São Paulo), Planetarium and a municipal Astrophysical school and several other types of museums, most of which were designed by the architect Niemeyer. In a cosmopolitan city like São Paulo you can of course also go shopping. The weekend markets are fun to browse and you can find gemstones, leather products and much more. The Sunday market on Praça da República ( Feira da República ) is certainly worth a visit with lots of art, crafts, paintings and ethnic food and live music. But São Paulo also has some large shopping centers, such as Higienópolis Shopping Center . Here you will find the more expensive brands and luxury items. The building itself is also impressive, built in a mix of classic European style with Japanese efficiency. Some other well-known shopping centers are: Iguatemi, Ibirapuera and Morumbi . São Paulo also has something to offer for other types of relaxation. 72 km outside the city itself is the Hopi Hari amusement park and the Wetn Wild swimming park. But in the city itself you can also go to the Aquarium ( Aquário de São Paulo ) located in the Ipiranga area. In addition, it has 272 cinemas and 102 theaters. São Paulo can also be called a sports mecca, with no fewer than seven stadiums, where one of the many World Cup competitions will be held in 2014, and the Interlagos race circuit where the only Latin American Formula 1 GP is held every year. A few hours’ drive from São Paulo you have the Paulista coast , with some parts north of the Paulista coast still the old Atlantic rainforest , where you can relax on the beaches of Santos or Guarujá. For many, eating is one of the biggest activities in São Paulo and it is certainly a good reason to visit. It is even called the World Capital of Gastronomy and with 12,500 restaurants there is certainly some truth in that. Due to the city’s great ethnic diversity, you can find all worldly cuisines. In the Terraço Itália restaurant , located on the highest floor of Edifício Itália , 160 meters above sea level, you have a great panoramic view while you are having lunch or dinner or just having a drink. If you like to party, São Paulo is the place for you, with its 15,000 bars and clubs. There is something of all types of music in this city, from Jazz and Dixieland to Brazilian music itself such as samba and forro. But you will certainly also find heavier club music here. Vila Olímpia is the area with nightlife for 18 to 30 year olds with many clubs and the best bars. Vila Madalena is the other area with lots of nightlife, but this is more for the 25-45 year olds who prefer bars and restaurants rather than clubs. Tip: to know where to go, check the Guia da Folha published in the Folha de São Paulo newspaper on Fridays. Ultimately, São Paulo is a city you either love or hate!